MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
September 30, 1996
Presently before the Court is the Motion of Defendant United Transportation Union to Dismiss Plaintiff's Action and the Motion of Defendant Eric Feldman to Dismiss Plaintiff's Action, or in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment. For the reasons set forth below, this Court will dismiss the plaintiff's claims against the defendants.
The plaintiff, Eric J. Talley, a member in good standing of Local 61 of the United Transportation Union ("UTU"), alleges that there were improprieties with UTU's January 19, 1996 Section 401(d) elections.
Specifically, the plaintiff alleges that UTU failed to provide timely nomination and election notices during its 1995 nationwide quadrennial elections of officers for General Committee of Adjustment GO-769.
Furthermore, the plaintiff maintains that UTU did not permit him or other members to nominate candidates in those elections, become candidates themselves, or support and vote for candidates of their choice. These actions, the plaintiff asserts, violate the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 ("LMRDA"), the Railway Labor Act ("RLA"), and the United States Constitution.
On May 5, 1996, following the elections, the plaintiff filed a formal complaint with the Department of Labor ("Department") and outlined his allegations of defendant UTU's misconduct. The Department conducted an investigation, and on September 5, 1995, the plaintiff received a letter from defendant Eric Feldman
stating the reasons why the Secretary of Labor ("Secretary") would not file suit under the LMRDA to set aside UTU's 1995 election.
After receiving Mr. Feldman's letter, the plaintiff filed the instant suit against defendants UTU and Feldman
, alleging violations of his rights under the LMRDA, the RLA, and the First and Fifth Amendments of the United States Constitution. The plaintiff requests this Court to: (1) declare the action of the Department contrary to law, arbitrary, capricious and in defiance of LMRDA; (2) order the Department to institute suit to set aside UTU's Section 401(d) elections for its officers; and (3) award the plaintiff $ 700,000 in damages to be paid by the defendants. The defendants, on the other hand, argue that the plaintiff's claims lack merit, and have moved this Court to dismiss the plaintiff's complaint pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6).
A. Legal Standard
1. Rule 12(b)(1) - Subject Matter Jurisdiction
Upon reviewing a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, courts apply a different standard than when reviewing a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Thus, in Mortensen v. First Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n, 549 F.2d 884 (3d Cir. 1977), the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit stated:
Because at issue in a factual 12(b)(1) motion is the trial court's jurisdiction--its very power to hear the case--there is substantial authority that the trial court is free to weigh the evidence and satisfy itself as to the existence of its power to hear the case. In short, no presumptive truthfulness attaches to plaintiff's allegations, and the existence of disputed material facts will not preclude the trial court from evaluating for itself the merits of jurisdictional claims. Moreover, the plaintiff will have the burden of proof that jurisdiction does in fact exist.
Id. at 891.
Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), a district court can grant a dismissal based on the legal insufficiency of a claim. Dismissal is proper only when the claim clearly appears to be either immaterial and solely for the purpose of obtaining jurisdiction, or is wholly insubstantial and frivolous. Kehr Packages, Inc. v. Fidelcor, Inc., 926 F.2d 1406, 1408-09 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 501 U.S. 1222, 115 L. Ed. 2d 1007, 111 S. Ct. 2839 (1991). When the subject matter jurisdiction of the court is challenged, the party that invokes the court's jurisdiction bears the burden of persuasion. Kehr Packages, 926 F.2d at 1409 (citing Mortensen, 549 F.2d 884, 891 (3d Cir.1977)). Moreover, the district court is not restricted to the face of the pleadings, but may review any evidence to resolve factual disputes concerning the existence of jurisdiction. McCarthy v. United States, 850 F.2d 558, 560 (9th Cir. 1988) (citations omitted), cert. denied, 489 U.S. 1052, 103 L. Ed. 2d 581, 109 S. Ct. 1312 (1989).
2. Rule 12(b)(6) - Claims Upon Which Relief May Be Granted
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) requires that a plaintiff's complaint set forth "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief . . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). Accordingly, the plaintiff does not have to "set out in detail the facts upon which he bases his claim." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47, 2 L. Ed. 2d 80, 78 S. Ct. 99 (1957) (emphasis added). In other words, the plaintiff need only to "give the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Id. (emphasis added).
In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim, this Court must "accept as true the facts alleged in the complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn from them. Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) . . . is limited to those instances where it is certain that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved." Markowitz v. Northeast Land Co., 906 F.2d 100, 103 (3d Cir. 1990) (citing Ransom v. Marrazzo, 848 F.2d 398, 401 (3d Cir. 1988)); see H.J. Inc. v. Northwest Bell Tel. Co., 492 U.S. 229, 249-50, 106 L. Ed. 2d 195, 109 S. Ct. 2893 (1989). The court will only dismiss the complaint if "'it is clear that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the allegations.'" H.J. Inc., 492 U.S. at 249-50 (quoting Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467 U.S. 69, 73, 81 L. Ed. 2d 59, 104 S. Ct. 2229 (1984)).
B. Analysis of Plaintiff's Claims
1. Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act
a. Claims Against Defendant UTU
The plaintiff alleges that defendant UTU's 1995 election violated provisions of LMRDA. He believes that "Article 82 [of UTU's constitution] unlawfully discriminates against rank and file members in their rights to vote, nominate, speak and assemble at Article 82 election meetings."
(Pl.'s Resp. to UTU Mot. at 7) (original emphasis). Accordingly, he brings suit against the defendant UTU under Title I, which provides him a private cause of action. Defendant UTU argues that the plaintiff's suit is brought not under Title I, but under Title IV, and the court must dismiss the claim, because it lacks subject matter jurisdiction.
LMRDA "was Congress' first major attempt to regulate the internal affairs of labor unions." Local No. 82, Furniture & Piano Moving, Furniture Store Drivers, Helpers, Warehousemen & Packers v. Crowley, 467 U.S. 526, 528, 81 L. Ed. 2d 457, 104 S. Ct. 2557 (1984). Title I of LMRDA, 29 U.S.C. §§ 411-415, provides a statutory "Bill of Rights" for the "rank and file" union members. Id. Title I was "designed to guarantee every union member equal rights to vote and otherwise participate in union decisions, freedom from unreasonable restrictions on speech and assembly, and protection from improper discipline." Id. at 536-37. To protect these rights, Title I allows an individual union member to initiate a civil action during a union election. 29 U.S.C. § 412 (1985).
Title IV, 29 U.S.C. §§ 481-483, on the other hand, "provides an elaborate post[-]election procedure aimed solely at protecting union democracy through free and democratic elections, with primary responsibility for enforcement lodged with the Secretary of Labor." Crowley, 467 U.S. at 536. Title IV requires that a plaintiff alleging a violation, exhaust the remedies available under his union's constitution and bylaws. 29 U.S.C. § 482(a)(1) (1985). After exhausting these internal remedies, the plaintiff may file a complaint with the Secretary of Labor, who will investigate the plaintiff's allegations. 29 U.S.C. § 482(b) (1985); see McDonough v. Local 825, Int'l Union of Operating Eng'rs, 470 F.2d 261, 264 (3d Cir. 1972) ("The purpose of this intricate procedure is to permit a 'maximum amount of independence and self-government by giving every international union the opportunity to correct improper local elections.'") (quoting S. Rep. No. 187, 86th Cong., 1st Sess. 21 (1959)). If the Secretary,
finds probable cause to believe that a violation . . . has occurred and has not been remedied, he shall . . . bring a civil action against the labor organization as an entity in the district court of the United States . . . to set aside the invalid election, if any, and to direct the conduct of an election or hearing and vote upon the removal of officers . . . .
Id. If, however, the Secretary decides not to bring civil action, a union member may not initiate a private suit against the union. Crowley, 467 U.S. at 549 (citing Trbovich v. United Mine Workers of Am., 404 U.S. 528, 531, 30 L. Ed. 2d 686, 92 S. Ct. 630 (1972)); McDonough, 470 F.2d at 264 (citing 29 U.S.C. § 483). The remedy provided by Title IV for challenging an election already conducted is exclusive, and thus preempts any Title I claims. 29 U.S.C. § 483 (1985); Crowley, 467 U.S. at 549; McDonough, 470 F.2d at 264. Therefore, when a district court determines that a plaintiff's Title I suit is really a Title IV suit, the court must dismiss the private civil action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. McDonough, 470 F.2d at 265; Thompson v. United Transportation Union, 1991 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19541, C.A. No. 89-2318, 1991 WL 325552, at *5 (N.D. Ohio May 9, 1991); Gammon v. International Ass'n of Machinists, 199 F. Supp. 433, 435 (N.D. Ga. 1961).
In this case, the plaintiff filed a complaint with the Department, after exhausting his internal remedies. In his complaint to the Department, the plaintiff requested that the Secretary set aside the defendant UTU's January 19, 1995 election. (Pl. Compl. to Department at 1). This complaint was filed on May 5, 1995, almost four months after the election on which the plaintiff based his claims. Therefore, this Court concludes that the plaintiff seeks post-election relief against defendant UTU. Because he proceeds under Title IV, rather than Title I, he cannot maintain a suit against defendant UTU.
The plaintiff admits as much, by citing Local No. 82, Furniture & Piano Moving, Furniture Store Drivers, Helpers, Warehousemen & Packers v. Crowley, 467 U.S. 526, 81 L. Ed. 2d 457, 104 S. Ct. 2557 (1984), which held that Title IV's exclusivity provisions preempt Title I claims. (Pl.'s Resp. to UTU Mot. at 5-6) (citing Crowley, 467 U.S. at 550)). The plaintiff attempts to circumvent this fact by arguing that "this Court can grant 'appropriate relief under Title I' here, without ever touching the already conducted elections, [by declaring] Article 82 void under 29 U.S.C. § 411(b)." (Pl.'s Resp. to UTU Mot. at 6). He supports his argument by relying on Crowley 's dicta, which states that "for less intrusive remedies sought [during a post-election era] a district court retains authority to order appropriate relief under Title I." (Pl.'s Resp. to UTU Mot. at 6 (quoting Crowley, 467 U.S. at 550)). This conclusion is incorrect, because the Crowley dicta applies not to post-election relief, but to on-going elections.
By misquoting the Supreme Court, the plaintiff attempts to create a cause of action which circumvents Congress' statutory scheme. This Court must reject this argument.
Consequently, this Court is without jurisdiction over the subject matter of this action, because a specific administrative remedy for determining the validity of UTU's election exists under LMRDA. Accordingly, the claims against defendant UTU are dismissed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1).
b. Claims Against the Secretary
As set forth above, under the LMRDA, the Secretary must decide whether to initiate a suit against a union. 29 U.S.C. § 482(b). If the Secretary determines that a union violated the LMRDA, he may initiate a suit on behalf of the complaining union members. 29 U.S.C. § 483 (1985). This is the exclusive remedy available to a union member.
The Secretary's decision not to sue does not mean that a union member has no recourse under the law. This decision is subject to limited review by the district court.
Crowley, 467 U.S. at 549 n.22 (citing Dunlop v. Bachowski, 421 U.S. 560, 44 L. Ed. 2d 377, 95 S. Ct. 1851 (1975)). The district court must review "the Secretary's disposition of a union member's complaint . . . under the 'arbitrary and capricious' standard of section 706(2)(A) of the Administrative Procedure Act ('APA'), 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A)." Doyle v. Brock, 632 F. Supp. 256, 258 (D.D.C. 1986) (citing Bachowski, 421 U.S. at 560). The district court's review,
should be confined to examination of the "reasons" statement, and the determination whether the statement, without more, evinces that the Secretary's decision is so irrational as to constitute the decision arbitrary and capricious. Thus, review may not extend to cognizance or trial of a complaining member's challenges to the factual bases for the Secretary's conclusion either that no violations occurred or that they did not affect the outcome of the election.
Bachowski, 421 U.S. at 572-73. Therefore, if the district court "determines that the Secretary's statement of reasons adequately demonstrates that his decision not to sue is not contrary to the law, the complaining union member's suit fails and should be dismissed." Id. at 574.
In this case, the plaintiff alleges that the Secretary's statement of reasons is arbitrary and capricious, because the Secretary's interpretation of the LMRDA is contrary to the plain language of the statute and the intent of Congress. The Secretary disagrees and argues that his interpretation is reasonable in light of the statute's legislative history. To resolve this dispute, the Court will analyze each claim presented in the plaintiff's May 5, 1995 complaint to the Department. The Court will then determine whether the Secretary's reasons not to sue are contrary to the law or the will of Congress.
2. Count I
In his first count, the plaintiff alleges that defendant UTU "violated his and the members' organizational rights guaranteed by the RLA." (Compl. to Department at P 6). The Secretary, however, dismissed this count, noting that "the RLA does not govern elections of union officers, and the Department of Labor does not enforce the RLA." (Secretary's Statement of Reasons at 1 n.1).
Congress intended that the RLA and the LMRDA govern different aspects of labor-management relations. Congress enacted the RLA to regulate labor-management relations and collective bargaining in the railroad industry, and the LMRDA to govern the election of union officials by union members. See 29 U.S.C. § 401 (1985) (stating purpose of LMRDA); 45 U.S.C. § 151(a) (1986) (stating purpose of RLA). To achieve these ends, Congress designated different agencies to mediate disputes under each statute. RLA disputes are resolved by the National Mediation Board, while LMRDA disputes are resolved by the Department. See Crowley, 467 U.S. at 568 (LMRDA); Switchmen's Union of N. Am. v. National Mediation Bd., 320 U.S. 297, 301, 88 L. Ed. 61, 64 S. Ct. 95 (1943) (RLA).
Here the plaintiff alleges violations concerning the election of union officials by union members. Thus, the LMRDA applies, and not the RLA. Accordingly, this Court finds that the Secretary's decision not to initiate suit for alleged RLA violations set forth in Count I is not contrary to the law, and thus not arbitrary and capricious.
3. Count II
The plaintiff also alleges that UTU's method for electing General Committee of Adjustment officers by secret ballot, set forth in Article 82 of its constitution, is contrary to the balloting procedures required by the LMRDA. (Compl. to Department at P 7). The plaintiff argues that Article 82's non-conformities violate the LMRDA, because:
a. Section 401(d) provides and guarantees all union members in good standing the right to elect by secret ballot general committee of adjustment officials. See 29 U.S.C.A. § 482(d);
b. Section 402(e) provides and guarantees all union members the right to be eligible for and to hold office in general committee of adjustments, subject to reasonable qualifications. See 29 U.S.C.A. § 482(e); and